Jude Collins

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Let me use - sorry, I mean share your grief

So, Virginia, what do you think of these electoral ambushes? There have been a number of them, you'll notice. Yesterday, Martin McGuinness was ambushed by the son of Pte Patrick Kelly, killed in gunfire during the search for kidnapped industrialist Don Tidey in 1983. Yesterday also the Irish Turf Cutters and Contractors' Association ambushed Gay Mitchell in east Galway, protesting against restrictions on 54 peatland areas. A week or so ago,  Michael D Higgins was ambushed by an American surgeon in Grafton Street. A sort of benevolent ambush, you could say. The American surgeon, without even asking Mr Higgins to roll up his trouser-leg, was able to assure the candidate that he was in remarkably good health and recovering from his leg thing very nicely.

What's that, Virginia? McGuinness and Mitchell were very unlucky to be ambushed by people with something negative to say and Higgins was very lucky to be ambushed by a man with something positive to say?  Well, yes, you're right, except that luck had nothing to do with it. Michael D Higgins no more happened to run into that accommodating surgeon with the X-ray eyes than my Auntie Maggie was a steeplechase jockey.  The Higgins handlers made good and sure that their man met the visiting sawbones and good and sure that said sawbones came out with all the right things. That's the way it is in politics, Virginia. Things are stage-managed. Theatrical. Subject to the art of concealing art so it looks like real life.

The same goes for Mitchell and the bog-men: I have no doubt the peat-cutters people are sincerely concerned about the Fine Gael stance on their peat areas but I'm equally sure they planned and executed their encounter to create as much damage as possible to Fine Gael and more specifically Gay Mitchell. They're a sizeable organisation, the Irish Turf-cutters and Contractors Association, but it's not stretching the imagination much to think they might have had a helping hand from those who don't give a damn about bogs but give a lot of damns about scuppering Mr Mitchell's candidacy.

As for the McGuinness ambush by the son of Pte Patrick Kelly, the same story, I'm afraid. Most of us carry pictures of our loved ones with us much of the time, but in our wallet or hand-bag.  Pvte. Kelly's son had a large framed picture which must be awkward to carry around. So presumably he planned the time and place of his meeting with McGuinness, then picked up the framed photograph. But why now, you say, Virginia? Mr Kelly's father was killed in 1983  - that's nearly thirty years ago. Why did he never confront Mr McGuinness before now?  You have a point, I think. My experience of bereavement is that the pain never goes away but is at its rawest in the first  5-10 years. So to answer your why-now question, Virginia, I think Mr Kelly was more concerned to stop Martin McGuinness making it to the Áras than he was about getting justice for his father. If the latter was his uppermost thought, he would surely have got round to confronting Sinn Féin people, including McGuinness, before this.  What's more, Virginia (oh dear, I know this will shock your little heart but it must be said) there are people who don't mind using the  bereavement of others for their own political purposes. It's perfectly possible that Mr Kelly and his framed photograph of his father appeared before Mr McGuinness without any help of any kind from any political party or campaign handler of a rival candidate. It's also perfectly possible - in fact you could probably risk a bet on it, Virginia - that he had plenty of help.  It's called the manipulation of grief, Virginia. Stand by for more of the same.


  1. Féilim Ó hAdhmaill11 October 2011 at 09:39

    Or maybe a member of the media Jude? Presumeably the meda are informed about where the candidate will be but why inform members of other political parties? Of course I could be cynical ( no that wasn't cynicism before) and say that maybe the media and other political parties are one and the same when it comes to McGuinness. But then that would just be cynicism wouldn't it?

  2. manipulation of grief - sounds about right Jude. I think of the McCartney sisters, jean McConville etc etc

  3. Jude
    I'm sorry to see you cannot find room for a word of condemnation for those who killed Patrick Kelly. Or indeed a word of compassion for his son
    Maybe it's hard to move on when you cannot find the truth about the death of a loved one.
    Maybe you would choose high profile occasions like this in order to draw attention to your campaign for justice.
    Truth and justice. Surely you approve?

  4. Events like this where MMG is confronted and asked to name people involved in murders on behalf of the IRA, reminds me of the statements the Security people used to put out when the troubles were still in their teens. You must remember, "The IRA have adopted a "Cell" structure so that the 3 members only knew each other and the leader only knew one other person." this was supposed to be a response to the previous success MI5/6 had in infiltration. Now if this is correct, even if MMG was the big chief then he would not have known either the personnel or fine detail, for security reasons.
    One other point, was there not a suspicion that both Pte. Kelly and the Garda trainee were killed by shots from their own side while they conducted a pincer movement. I suppose forensics when the bullets were recovered would have discounted that.

  5. I think the problem some families have is they feel their loss is ignored while Bloody Sunday gets an inquiry, Pat Finucane's family is off meeting the PM etc.

    But really what it comes down to is an intense antipathy in the South for the North, the toxic bank that just will not go away. Hard to believe that Michael Collins was once MP for Armagh as well as Cork.

  6. Eamon De Valera, was Stormont MP for Down
     between 1921 and 1929, and again from 1933 to 1937.

  7. David Kelly was 7 years old when his father was murdered by the IRA. Did you expect him to confront McGuinness then, or 5 years later when he was 12? Private Kelly died at the hands of those who sought to undermine this state. His son has the right, at any time, to question a man who wishes to head the same state.

  8. A thoughtful article in the Independent of all places.


  9. I suspect that this man is being used by others for political point scoring given what he said in Dec 2008 'His son David said the family would now be drawing a line under the incident and moving on with their lives'.
    That is in rte news report from the 25th anniversary rememberance event at Moate.
    The report is here and the son says this again in the video report at top right.

  10. Another great preformance by Martin McGuinness this time in the Today FM radio debate. Dana has landed a fair few good blows by linking Michael D Higgins to his party leader and Europe. David Norris does go on a bit always waffling on. Gay Mitchell my God why did FG even bother putting this guy up. Sean Gallagher never looked really bad no hard questions asked of him though.

  11. Have you changed your blog page or something? The format of the page seems to have changed, what is blogspot.com


  12. I've changed the format to 'Magazine' style. Do you like it or...?

  13. When his grief was at its whatevermost 5 to 10 years after the incident that would have made him a 14-19 year old. Imagine bearding the Derry O/C in his den back then. They were such a fun bunch of guys the PIRA I'm sure there'd have been no problem at all.

  14. Thank you for your thoughts, Anon 11:40. To me they make no sense but you clearly hold them sincerely. Martin McGuinness has been a Minister in Stormont for 13 years now and available to reporters, members of the public, schoolchildren - check the records. But if you want to think of him hiding in a den, that's your right.